Poor diets are associated with 20% of deaths worldwide. Obesity, heart disease, strokes, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and tooth decay are all linked with unhealthy eating. Even some cancers – something worth raising as we mark World Cancer Day – can be linked with being obese or overweight; research suggests around 30 percent of cancer cases are linked to poor dietary habits, and being overweight increases the risk of 13 types of cancer.

For over a decade now, the World Health Organization has considered diet to be a public health priority. Governments around the world have tried to encourage healthier eating as a way to achieve longer, healthier lives and reduce healthcare costs. Yet, ultimately, how big an impact does diet have on public health?

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Maia, who says:

Image of a citizenThe majority of health problems come from eating bad food which over the years slowly destroy the body from within and makes people ill. When more people have diseases, there is increased pressure on healthcare systems. For the past few years, statistics have shown a dramatic increase in all kinds of diseases, and particularly type-2 diabetes and heart disease – conditions directly related to what we eat. Yet there is very little attention paid to how food can be used to prevent and heal diseases…. I think the only way to save healthcare would be for nations to become healthier. The main medicine for that is food.

Is she right? To get a response, we put Maia’s comment to German social democrat MEP Tiemo Wölken, who sits as a substitute member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. We asked him how important he considers nutrition to be for public health and how better diets can be promoted (his response below is in German, but subtitled in English):

For another perspective, we also spoke to Guiseppe Grosso, President of the European Public Health Association’s food and nutrition section. How would he respond?

She is right. As a scientist, I have dealt with the relationships between nutrition and life expectancy and the research results confirm her opinion. Diet determines how healthy we are. Even children have to acquire knowledge about nutrition and, as an adult, be empowered to make the right decisions. What we eat is important and we have to know how to eat a healthy diet.

Could a better diet solve many of our health problems? How much pressure could be lifted off our healthcare systems through healthier eating and better promotion of public health? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: Flickr (cc) Nenad Stojkovic; Portrait Credits: Grosso (c) Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences, University of Catania

11 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Of course. It is Always good to learn. Please burocrats dont impose. We want to be free.

  2. avatar

    Yup. Biggest death toll linked to a certain fat in animal products ;)

    • avatar

      that is just the fact Anna del Anda

  3. avatar

    Yes, it is called ‘precision nutrition’.

    • avatar

      nice Julia…. you are nutritionist rite?

  4. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    I think there is a need for much more education in terms of what exactly happens in our body when we eat a particular food. It is not enough to just say “Eat this” or “Eat that because it is healthy”. We need to understand how exactly that type of food is healthy, why the body needs it so much and what happens if it is not taken. We need to learn more about how we can use food as a medicine because in the end it is all chemistry. We seem to recognise and value more the imperfect chemicals made by pharmaceutical companies, rather than the perfect ones provided to us by nature which we can eat every day and without a prescription from a doctor. Why do we choose to fill our body with delicious poisons then? I think it is because we don’t know enough to realise the seriousness and the danger of it. We can only realise it when we know the mechanism of how one food is literally killing the cells in our body, while another is restoring them back to life. This is why more education on nutrition is needed to help us eat consciously and live happy, without diseases (it is possible), rather than sleepwalk to misery, suffering and early death by taking slow poisons in the form of delicious foods, in addition to pills and medicines designed to secure the long-term profits of pharmaceutical companies at the expense of our health and life.

  5. avatar

    Humans need full natural grown fruits, vegetables and animal products as a diet. Too much glucids, sugars, starches, cereals, processed part of these, are killing us, diabetes, obesity, auto_immunes, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, hepato-digestive, aso.

  6. avatar

    is good to eat natural food… say no to junk food

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